The Christian Judgment Day
What happens when Christians stand before God at the end?
All bible quotes not otherwise marked are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016)
In popular culture, there is this idea of judgment day when God will decide who is
going to heaven and who is going to Hell. It is a single event where everything gets decided. Usually people think there will be some kind of scale and if your good deeds outweigh your bad deeds then you will make it into heaven. This idea could not be farther from the truth.
I am here to write about Christians and our quest to fulfill our ministry for Christ. So I will leave not focus on the other judgments. I will briefly address them.
The Sheep and Goat Judgment.
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
So here we have Jesus at his second coming, dispensing judgment to those who have lived through the tribulation period. Those who helped his brothers in various ways and thus showing their faith in Him will be accepted into the Kingdom. They are literally inheriting the millennial kingdom.
Those who neglected his brothers do not get to enter the kingdom. They instead are sent into the everlasting fire. A fire prepared for the devil and his fallen angels. You see God did not want any person to go into this eternal fire and He has provided a way to avoid it but many will not avoid it.
No Christian will be judged at this judgment. Why is that? At the rapture we will be caught up into the air to be with Him in our glorified bodies. We will be accompanying Jesus back to the earth at His second coming. We won’t be around to be judged as we will already be with Him.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18
15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Paul here is speaking of Jesus coming for his church. This is why we are caught up in the air. Jesus is not returning at this moment to the earth. He is soon to come but the seven years of tribulation must come first. It is during that seven years of tribulation that some will come to know Christ as their savior and it is those people who will help those in need and be accepted by Jesus at the Sheep and Goats Judgment. We Christians though are not part of that judgment.
Now we will go to the very end of human history.
7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
After a thousand years of reign by Christ, the people of this earth will revolt and join with Satan. Isn’t that sad? Isn’t that dismaying? Even after a thousand years of a glorious reign where peace rules and justice is the norm, there will be those who throw it away and join Satan.
After this great battle at the end of what we call the millennium there will be a final judgment.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
This is the second death. This is where most people who die in their sins will be judged. Those people will be judged on their works. Everyone judged by their works goes into the lake of fire. Those not going in are only those written in the book of life. The lambs book of life.
Now I will come back to the church. Is the church anywhere in these judgments I’ve just mentioned? No. The church is raptured out long before any of this happens and given their glorified bodies. The same sort of body that Jesus had after He rose on the third day. We will be able to move about the world at the speed of thought. We won’t age and we will be protected from even the presence of sin.
1 Corinthians 3:9-17
9 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
As Christians, the focus is on our work here on earth. It’s not about being saved or justified in the eyes of God. Jesus took care of that when he died on the cross and we accepted what He did for us. We received the Holy Spirit.
Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
We are sealed to the day of redemption. Seals were important in old testament times. The Romans put a seal on Jesus tomb and anyone breaking it would be killed. When God seals something it stays sealed. There is no breaking God’s seal. So as Christians when we accept Christ’s free gift and receive the Holy Spirit we are at that moment sealed. We no longer should be focused on getting to heaven. We are going there as certain as the power of God is supreme.
In John 10:27 Jesus addresses our security as Christians
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Jesus could not be more emphatic. When He says never in this verse, the Greek brings out the force of that no much stronger than our English. If we were texting or tweeting it these days we would have put NEVER in all caps. In the Greek, three words It also has the ideas of continuing on forever into infinity. Perhaps a way of saying it would be “No not ever”.
Back to what we are to be concerned about. There will be a Christian judgment day. Paul alluded to it when he talked about running the race.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
The Christian life is like a cross country race. We will have hills and valleys and we will face challenges. We should prepare ourselves and be disciplined in what we do. Why? So we can win the race. But what is meant by winning the race?
2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
Paul is here writing to his son in the faith Timothy. He is saying that his time is short. He will soon be executed and his mission for Christ is coming to an end. He speaks again of the race. He has finished the face. He kept the faith. So keeping the faith is part of winning the race. As a result of his faith, and victory, he has waiting for him a crown of righteousness.
Paul says the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day and not only me but also to all who have loved his appearing. Who is going to love Christ’s appearing? Christians. Believers.
Again though the question arises when is that day? When will be get our crowns? We will get them at that judgment mentioned above. The gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and stubble mentioned above are part of that judgment.
If our lives are built on a foundation of Christ, we will reap rewards. If our lives are spent pursuing our own happiness without regard for God’s will for our lives, then we will not have anything to show Christ. And if we do a lot in our minds for Christ but we do it for our own glory and not Christ’s then those works will be burned up like hay, wood, and stubble.
That doesn’t mean you will be lost. Let’s look at verse 15 again.
1 Corinthians 3:15
15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
What sort of loss will be suffer? We will grieve that given such a great opportunity to impact the world and lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ, we wasted the opportunity. We will know that our poor efforts for Christ resulted in nothing after judged in His refining fire.
There are a number of crowns mentioned in the bible. Christians will receive these crowns at this Christian judgment seat. It is called the bema seat in Greek. Bema is the seat where rewards are handed out.
1 Peter 5:4
4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
The above crown is for elders. So not all Christians are going to even aspire for this crown if not called by God they won’t. Those called though will be able to get this one.
12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
So those of us Christians who love Christ and remain steadfast under trial can receive this crown.
We already mentioned 2 Timothy 4:8 above where Paul says he will receive the crown of righteousness. There are a lot of crowns to get.
What are we Christians going to do with all of these crowns? We are going to throw them at Christ’s feet. We are going to worship and glorify God. Our crowns are nothing compared to what He did for us. We will throw them away as worthless beside Him. We want though to have crowns to cast. Those crowns will be our evidence of the love we had for Christ in this life.
In closing, let me draw your focus. As we learn about finding our mission for Christ and executing. Let us not forget that the mission he has for us is the most important thing in our lives. It has to be number one. We have to be submitted to Christ’s will for us. Second, we can do nothing in our own strength and we should do nothing to further our own glory. Give God the glory. If you do anything as a Christian, it will be because He saved you. He empowered you with spiritual gifts. He has stood beside you every step of the way.
There is no reason to fight for credit in the church. I once heard a pastor say that you can get a lot done in a church if you don’t care who gets the credit. Amazing. We know who is keeping tabs. Why do we care what men think? We should focus on what Christ thinks. He will keep an accurate score. We should let Jesus move us where he wants us. I once told my Sunday school class that if Christ told me I was going to be President of the United States, that I would not run a campaign ad. At least not unless God told me to. Why would I? God said I was going to win. That is good enough.
Let’s say focused on God’s will. I will definitely dwell on positions in the church and God’s will for our lives in future blogs. It’s a heavy topic.
God bless you all. I love you and hope that you can fulfill your mission a little better by reading my posts.